UNESCO warns about ‘culture cleansing’ by ISIS

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ISIS militants destroyed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq. UNESCO is concerned about the destiny of Syria's Palmyra and other historical sites in the region. File photo

ARA News 

Geneva – On Wednesday, head of the U.N. cultural organization, Irina Bokova, called for a campaign against what she described “culture cleansing” conducted by militants of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS).

Bokova said in a statement that ISIS radicals are systematically targeting cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq “to strike societies at their core”. 

“This strategy seeks to destroy identities by eliminating heritage and cultural markers,” she said.

Militants of ISIS have reportedly destroyed several archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq. They recently took over the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra and started destroying monuments and other Roman ruins. 

The radical group has earlier damaged the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq, and destroyed dozens of pieces from the museum in Mosul.

“I think the growing awareness that hard power will not be enough to defeat violent extremism is gaining ground. We need also soft power,” Bokova said. “Culture should be part of our response to violent extremism.” 

UNESCO has launched a campaign entitled “Unite4Heritage” to protect archeological sites from the threat of extremists. 

 

Reporting by: Lorin Silo 

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